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Valmiera's ZILE Programme contends in the Excellence Awards Final

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EBN’s mission to identify, celebrate, disseminate, and spotlight the most effective business support practices within the EU|BIC community will be on stage 13 June at the CIC Ouest’s, the venue for the EBN Congress 2024

Valmiera Development Agency, a 2023 addition to the EU|BIC associates family, will be contending for the EU|BIC Excellence Awards final. Representing the Baltic country of Latvia in the grand final of the EU|BIC Excellence Awards. The ZILE programme, meaning acorn in English, is one of the 7 selected programmes to pitch on stage for the Most Impactful Programme title. Valmiera’s ZILE programme shows the compromise of the newest EU|BICs in bringing fresh ideas to the broader EU|BIC community.

european business and innovation centre network 40 years anniversary supporting eubics

The European Business & Innovation Centre Network (EBN), celebrating its 40th anniversary, aims to highlight the best practices within the EU|BICs.

The small Baltic country of Latvia is no exception to the global trend of hyper-centralizing economic development in large urban centers. The ZILE programme was developed in response to the centralized nature of innovation support in Latvia, which often overlooks regional needs. Launched by the Valmiera Development Agency in cooperation with the local municipality and other stakeholders, since its inception in 2018, the programme has significantly contributed to regional development by enabling companies to enhance their turnover and profit, ultimately boosting the local economy.

Over six years, ZILE has facilitated the creation 61 projects with a total funding of €272,729.00, impacting regional economic growth and innovation.

The programme seeks to simplify access to support instruments for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and to foster innovation and economic growth within Valmiera County. By targeting invention-based and technology-oriented companies, ZILE aims to enhance regional competitiveness and create new job opportunities.

The Business Support Programme ZILE provides comprehensive support including funding, advice, information, education, consultancy, and expertise to existing companies, start-ups, and freelancers.

Programme Implementation

Key objectives of the ZILE programme include promoting innovation, economic development, and public-private partnerships. The programme operates annually from February to December, beginning with a call for applications during Vidzeme Region Innovation Week. Activities include application reviews, consultancy, seminars, project implementation, and evaluation. Over the years, ZILE has supported 61 projects with a total funding of €272,729.00, impacting regional economic growth and innovation. Aiming to foster innovation, development, export growth, job creation, public and private partnerships, and social entrepreneurship, it has has supported the development of 37 innovative products, services, or prototypes over the 6 years it has been going.

Innovative Aspects and Impact

The ZILE programme stands out for its local-level focus on innovation and its use of the Deloitte Development Ten Types of innovation model. This approach encourages ambitious thinking among entrepreneurs. The programme’s compact nature allows for individualised support and wide publicity for participants. Additionally, the availability of the DARE makerspace for prototyping adds significant value.

The programme has resulted in economic growth, job creation, and increased innovation in Valmiera County. Although the business support programme ZILE is small, it contributes significantly to the overall economic growth of the municipality and the region. Valmiera has the second highest GDP per capita in Latvia after Riga, the capital, Thanks in part as its status as an industry centre of the country. Around 9000 people (equivalent to 36% of Valmiera’s population) commute to Valmiera each day from surrounding areas and municipalities.

Contribution to Green and Digital Transition

ZILE has supported 19 projects related to digital transformation and promotes sustainability as a core criterion for project funding. The programme’s emphasis on green practices has led to more sustainable and circular economy initiatives among SMEs, fostering a culture of environmental consciousness and digital advancement in the region.

Case story of a beneficiary of the Zile Programme

As the EBN Congress 2024 approaches, anticipation is building. This landmark event will unite key innovators and leaders in business support. The ZILE programme’s success story in Valmiera, Vidzeme region, Latvia, highlights its potential for adaptation in other regions, promoting global collaboration and knowledge exchange among the 7 finalists and with the broader EU|BIC community in general.

With a proven track record over the past 7 years, ZILE continues to drive innovation and excellence for regional innovators and SMEs. Now, with its place in the EU|BIC Excellence Awards final, it extends its impact to the international stage.

Stay tuned for the next sneak peek of the 7 finalist programmes and join us in celebrating the spirit of innovation at the EBN Congress 2024!

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